Wednesday, October 31, 2018

October Books

I can't believe my goal of reading 17 books in 2017 (ha, I ended up with 88!) has morphed in this passion for books. Let's be real, not having cable TV to keep me "entertained" also gives me more free time to dive into a great book or seven ;)

There were SIXTY-ONE books in the first nine months of the year, so when I add October's NINE that brings my total for 2018 thus far to SEVENTY! If you're interested in what I read (and how I'd rate them), make sure to check out my previous recaps - I post them on the last day of the month! {January's Books / February's Books / March's Books / April's Books / May's Books / June's Books / July's Books / August's Books / September's Books}

  • Beartown by Fredrik Backman - I had read A Man Called Ove in March of last year and when a few friends mentioned this book (by the same author), I knew I needed to grab it. I didn't know much about the book (other than it came highly recommended), but man were my friends right. This book hit me in all the feels. I don't know if it's because of all the Kavanaugh stuff going on or just because rape has (and should have) such a jarring effect on me, but I found myself tearing up for the majority of the book. It's a story about a rape in a hockey town, but it's so much more than that. I know it was "just" a novel, but I also know how true this rings for so many women (and men) out there that it makes me sick. Like I've said on my social media platforms recently, whether you choose to report or not, whether you tell the world or not another soul, NO ONE deserves to be harassed or assaulted. The rape culture that we live in needs to end and it needs to end now! (PS If you haven't read Missoula by John Krakauer yet, please do so. I read it in September of last year. It is not an easy read, but one that I truly believe everyone should hear.) I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • Meb for Mortals by Meb Keflezighi - I actually got this book for Christmas and didn't read it till now. I thought during my goal race taper was the perfect time to pick it up. Meb shares some of his tips and tricks on how to run, think and eat like a champion marathoner. I really enjoyed how he broke everything down in this book. Although he is sharing what he does personally, his experience translates to recreational runners just as it would to elites (obviously not the pacing, but the outline, mentality, etc). I'm currently in the taper period before my next marathon (which means I am running less and giving my body adequate time to fully recover and prepare for the race), but this book reminds me that once I'm done with this round of training I MUST add back in some strength training and cross-training. I appreciated seeing the in's and out's of competitive running (and that there's so much more than just running the miles). I plan to keep this book handy and use the exercises, stretching and strength routines to help me to be the best runner I possible can be. I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein - I got a recommendation about this book from a friend and decided to grab it for our trip to Hawaii. Well, when I posted my haul that was going on our vacation I got a ton of feedback from folks - most saying that this novel was amazing, but quite a few folks mentioning I shouldn't read it in public because it would leave me teary-eyed. Since I had a few days before our trip when I grabbed the books from the library I decided to read this one prior to our flight. I flew through it (took less than an afternoon, even for being over 300 pages long). Like people said, it was great. I loved the idea of the book - a story told from the perspective of a pet dog. If you have a pup, you probably feel like your doggy is an integral part of your family so this just made sense. Actually, it made me look at Walt and give him an extra big squench, even if he can't quite understand me like Enzo ;) From everyone's feedback I was expecting to be a blubbering mess for the majority of the book, but the tears only came in the last few pages. I'm so glad a friend recommended this book to me, and now I will totally recommend it to you! I would give it a 10 out of 10.

  • Us Against You by Fredrik Backman - This is the follow-up book of Beartown. I really enjoyed the first book and was excited to get into this one (although, truth be told, I didn’t have overly high expectations because I was worried the first would be hard to top - sequels always tend to fall a bit short in my eyes). I started it on our plane ride to Hawaii, and, I’ve gotta say, I sort of wanted the flight to be longer so I could finish it. I wouldn’t say it was as amazing as the first (mostly because I felt like there was so much going on it was hard to dive into all of the different characters and story lines as much as I would have liked - it could've easily been 100 pages longer), but I definitely liked it. I enjoyed the foreshadowing done throughout the book that kept me on my toes (the author sets you up for an event and then it happens to someone you weren’t expecting). And seeing as hockey season just started, I think it was perfect timing for me to pick up this book. I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • Since You Asked by Maurene Goo - When I had recently shared some of my Young Adult reads an IG friend mentioned she was a school librarian who also enjoyed herself some YA books. She mentioned this author and suggested I check out some of her books. I brought this one along as one of my Hawaii trip reads. I have to say, I was a bit disappointed. It was pretty surface-y. It was definitely a quick read (flew through it on the beach one afternoon), but I don’t think I’d recommend it to others. Again, it’s not terrible, just not too engaging and didn’t have a ton of drama or action going on. The first chapter drew me in (when a high school "nobody" was joking around while editing an article and it accidentally got published in the school newspaper), but from there it didn't really keep me interested or invested in the characters. I would give it a 6 out of 10.

  • Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala - I don't remember how exactly I came across this title (I know, you aren't surprised), but I was excited about it. From what I knew, it was about a Nigerian boy growing up in the DC area with very strict parents. He is gay and this is a HUGE problem for his parents. Although the book is somewhat short it took me longer to read it because of the format with the dialog. I am used to quotation marks, breaks in paragraphs between speakers, etc, but this book didn't have this. It would switch between speakers every other sentence and was a little hard to follow because of the lack of punctuation (but that may just be me). As far as the substance of the book, I was a little disappointed. I was really hoping to love it, but it was just mediocre for me. I was surprised with the direction it went about halfway through, but it still didn't truly engage me from the beginning. I'm not sure exactly what it was, but, hey, to each his own. I would give it a 7 out of 10.

  • Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham - A friend recommended I grab this book because I was a big Gilmore Girls fan (which reminds me, it's time I re-watch the series). I thought it'd be perfect on our Hawaii trip and I was right (it was the fourth book I read on the trip and just the change I needed from the previous ones). Lauren shares her experiences from beginning in the acting world (and even before that), to being on Gilmore Girls and eventually the reboot of the series. I loved not only getting a bit of a “behind the scenes” look but also just learning more about Lauren as a person, actor and professional. She is one smart (and funny) cookie! If you liked Gilmore Girls I’d definitely recommend picking up this book. It was a quick, easy and entertaining read. And now I have to see if the library carries the novel she wrote! I would give it an 8 out of 10. 

  • Fear and Loathing in Last Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson - Near where we were staying in Hawaii I noticed a "little free library". At the end of our trip I had already finished the majority of the books I brought with me (before leaving I struggled with how many to bring, eventually deciding to stick with four, but probably should've thrown another in my luggage) so stopped by to see if anything would grab my eye. I ended up picking up this book (along with another) because the hubby had recently been talking about wanting to re-watch the movie. I had never seen the movie (and actually didn't even know what it was about) so grabbed the book. I ended up starting it on the flight back home and had about 50 pages to go by the time we got back to SoCal. Let's just say this book wasn't my cup of tea. It is literally 200ish pages of two drug induced trips to Las Vegas. It was a bit hard to follow in spots because of all the shenanigans going down, but I was eventually able to finish it. Maybe had I known what the book was about I may have been able to brace myself for it a little more but who knows. I ended up seeing it through to the end, but it definitely isn't my kind of book (although I would be interested in seeing the movie). I would give it a 5 out of 10. 

  • Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis - I had seen quite a few friends reading this book and I wanted in. I listened to a few podcasts that Rachel had been on and every time I heard her speak I would shake my head and say "YESSS" to many of her topics. Unfortunately her book isn't available at our library (well, it is, but only in an eReader format and I don't have that capability...), but when I was on YouTube the other day I saw the audio version of it was there so I decided to give it a listen. I really appreciate the way this book is set up. She starts each chapter with a lie she believed, shares some examples about how they played out in her life and then three real life applications on what helped her get past these lies. Like she mentions, she is not there to be a cheerleader or someone to just pass on positive quotes, she's there to push you to become the best you that you can be because she knows you deserve it. Although she writes for a Christian publisher, she touches on topics that can sometimes be seen as taboo - like sex, mental illness, suicide, etc. Rachel is a strong, badass woman who believes you can be one too - but you've gotta fight for it! I would give it an 8 out of 10.


With that, October has come to a close. My reading may slow, but I definitely hope it never completely stops. If you have any suggestions, let me know! I'm always willing to add them to my queue if our library offers them!

What was the best book you read this month?

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Rock 'N' Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon Race Recap

Sunday was the Rock 'N' Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon. I have run this race a couple times in the past and since friends were chatting about doing it again I registered. (PS Thanks to being a part of the #RockNBlog team I was comped an entry but you know I will still #KeepItReal when it comes to my thoughts, feelings and recap, #ForBetterOrForWorse.)

This race is Halloween themed (due to it being the weekend before the holiday) and if you know me, you know I can’t pass up on a reason to run in a costume... Running should be fun and doing it in a costume helps to remind me of that! (If you’re new to my corner of the InterWebs {WELCOME! THANKS FOR VISITING!} you may not know this, but I’ve run in everything from a Rosie the Riveter costume to the Welcome to Las Vegas sign - complete with battery powered lights.) 

Seeing as I love a great running costume, I started brainstorming ideas weeks ago. I had so many possibilities - everything from Ruth Bader Ginsburg to a donut, Snow White to a piñata. Not only did I want something fun, but I knew I needed to get it done before we went to Hawaii because I would have very little time afterward to make it happen. 


One day a few weeks back, when taking our recyclables down to the dumpster area I saw a large futon box that someone had brought down. I hadn't solidified my idea yet, but I knew if I needed a large amount of cardboard (say for a piñata, donut, etc) this would be perfect, so I drug it down to our garage and stored it while the creative wheels kept turning.


Since I had the cardboard I figured that I might as well use it. And because I would have run my goal marathon the week previous I knew this race would be ZERO about the time (and all about PARTY PACE), so why not go big?! I thought, "What if I made myself into a giant Ms. PacMan?!". I mean, she sort of runs around chasing things, right?! It'd be perfect!

I actually found a super useful tutorial on how to make a PacMan costume (praise the wonders of the Internet!) that I adjusted slightly to fit me. The construction itself took maybe an hour or two to get everything cut to the proper size and then hot glued and taped together. The "decorating" took another hour or two (originally I tried yellow paint but it would have required multiple layers and I didn't want the cardboard to get soggy, so I decided on yellow duct tape). I added the duct tape bow on my visor, the pipe cleaner eye lashes and lips to make her look more feminine. I've gotta say, I was pretty proud of the final outcome - especially having hand made it and only spending $12 (for the three rolls of tape).

My #FlatMsPacMan, I mean #FlatCarlee included: yellow PRO Compression socks, red Handful sports bra, golden kiwi rabbit shorts,
lululemon tech tee (that I received for completing a past Strava + lulu challenge), elite Road ID, Sparkle Athletic visor (with duct tape bow
hot glued on), red gloves (grabbed at the Dollar Store), black and red QALO silicone wedding bandsred and yellow Momentum Jewelry
, my Garmin Forerunner 935, and Brooks Ghost 11. And, of course, the Ms PacMan made from cardboard and duct tape.

Now, let me be honest, the Los Angeles Rock 'n' Roll event is probably one of my least favorite RnR races as a race itself. The course is boring (not many landmarks, especially since they removed running through the Coliseum) and hilly - but I do it for the people and the costume fun (and because it's free for me). With that said, I also decided I'd do it ONLY if I could grab my bib on race morning (I know, I know, I'm spoiled, but it wasn't worth me driving to and from LA on Saturday to grab my bib and then again on Sunday for the race or to pay to stay in a hotel). Because I was able to get that worked out, the game plan was to get up to the race a little early to ensure I could grab my goodies beforehand.

The race started at 6:15am and there was a #WeRunSocial Meet-Up a 5:45am, so that meant realistically I needed to be to the area around 5am so I could park, walk to the starting area, grab my bib, gear check the participant tee, etc. 

3:35am, in the car (in the garage) and I'm ready to hit the road!

Thankfully when you leave your house by 3:40am you don't have to deal with much traffic! I was able to get to the parking garage right around 5am (I used the SpotHero app and found a parking garage about a half mile from the Staples Center for $7 - I probably could've found free street parking but the few bucks was worth the convenience of not having to look). 

I thought I should take a couple "before" shots because I wasn't sure if the costume would hold up.

When I arrived at the solutions tent to grab my bib there was no line - PERFECT! One thing that I wanted to give Rock 'N' Roll MAJOR kudos on was that they recently switched to a paperless bib check-in system. In the past you were required to print out a page long waiver (either at home or at the Expo), sign it and bring it to bib pick-up - but they changed it and now have your bib numbers available online and no longer require the printed waiver. YAY FOR SAVING TREES! 


Once I took care of everything I went to the #WeRunSocial Meet-Up. I accidentally went to the wrong place (I didn't run this race last year, but in 2016 we met on a different side of Staples Center), but thankfully a quick text corrected my error.

After a few hello's, photos and fist bumps (I couldn't give out hugs when I was wearing the GIANT Ms PacMan), it was time to head to the corrals. Because we were a little late getting over to them we had to stand by an opening and let them empty a bit before we could squeeze in. Apparently there were some PacMan haters around because some friends heard folks bad-talking the "costume walkers" who were getting in their way and causing the crowding. HA, little did they know I ran a 3:23 marathon less than a week prior, but hey, I'm out there living my best life, I hope they are doing the same!

Source: @blingwhore's Instagram feed

I totally forgot to take a screenshot of the weather prior to us starting, but suffice it to say it was HUMID! The fog stuck around for a good portion of the morning (I'd say until we got to about Mile 7 or so) and it was pretty nasty out. I mentioned it on my IG stories a few days ago, but the fog has made it feel extra spooky and Halloween-esque lately. I guess it went with the theme, but my oh my, I would much prefer to kick this humidity to the curb! 

Pictures in the dark are hard... but at least we gave it a shot...

Besides the "character stop" around Mile 1 (with the backdrop and "angels" that probably should have been put later in the race so the sun was up and could get better pictures), there weren't really any other stops to make. We stopped to say "hi" or snap photos with friends we saw along the route, but other than that there wasn't much else to see. (It even seemed like there were fewer than normal bands and "entertainment" along the course.)

Source: Upper Left - Juan celebrated his 100TH half and we saw him along the course, Upper Right - Tam found me,
Bottom Left - @blingwhore's Instagram feed, Bottom Right - @blingwhore's Instagram feed

It sort of looks like Ms PacMan is eating the cones, right?! 

PS I had many folks confused at how I ran in the costume, so here's a video to give you a better idea. I held the cardboard in the "mouth" while I ran to keep it from bouncing or shifting too much. It was actually easier than I was expecting it to be.

I wish I had more to say about this race, but I don't... Don't get me wrong, I had a great time, but I always have a great time running with friends (for me, the course and surroundings tend to be secondary to the company I'm running with). There weren't a ton of costumes (although I do like the out-and-back portions so you can see the other runners), but maybe that's because folks are more likely to dress up for shorter distance races. There was a costume contest but I was already long gone by the time it started, so I missed out, but maybe had I stuck around Ms PacMan could've won.

Source: @blingwhore's Instagram feed

Ms PacMan DID IT!!

The past RnRLA bling has been less than stellar, but I like this one!

On the way back to my car we came across some awesome street art and had to snap a couple pictures. (A big thanks to THEE Pavement Runner for taking some pictures since the hubby decided to sleep in and skip the race this year ;))

Love the bright, colorful and banging street art all around LA! 

Oh my goodness, I can't finish this recap without posting about one of the highlights - Sour Punch Straws! One of the post-race treats they gave us (along with a bottle of water, an opened banana, a Costco granola bar and a bag of Cheez-Its) was a package of Sour Punch Straws! Do you remember these things?! SO GOOD! Let's just say, these candy straws take me back to childhood! And with the Halloween theme, getting some candy at the end was pretty fun!

The airplane in the sweatband for United (title sponsor) on the participant tee was pretty clever too!

Have you ever run in a costume before?

Monday, October 29, 2018

Riverside LaceUp Race Entry GIVEAWAY

I know I've mentioned my relationship with the Lexus LaceUp Running Series a couple of times before, but now's your chance to cash in for yourself... Yup, today must be your lucky day because I'm giving away TWO FREE RACE ENTRIES to the Riverside LaceUp Event to one random winner! Talk about the perfect way to kick off the holiday season with your BRF (best running friend)! It'll be held on Sunday, December 2nd at Fairmont Park. Multiple race distances are offered - so there's something for everyone! Tackle the festive Half Marathon, the fast 5K or have the wee-ones run the Kids' Race.

As with all of the Lexus LaceUp Running Series races the participant perks are never ending (or so they seem)! Each runner will receive either a Santa hat or reindeer antlers, a tech shirt, a high-quality finisher's medal, a re-usable race bag, a food truck brunch, a craft beer (for participants over 21), free race day photos and will be eligible for age group awards!


Entering the giveaway is EASY-PEASY! Head to my Instagram account, find the picture below and ENTER! The steps to get your name in the hat are as painless as possible! Simply follow me, follow LaceUp Running, like the image and tag a friend (or 73)! The giveaway will run through Friday, November 2nd (giving you a month before heading to the starting line). The random winner will be contacted on November 3rd and will have 24 hours to respond and claim their prize.

In case you aren't the lucky winner (or just can't wait), use code "CARLEE10" to save 10%! So grab your friends and register today (and feel free to use the money you saved to buy me a Christmas present as a way to say thanks ;))!

Have you ever won an entry to a race before?

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Workout Recap - Week 43

Sunday, October 21st – Ventura Marathon, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Monday, October 22nd – Rest Day, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Tuesday, October 23rd – 4 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Wednesday, October 24th – 6 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Thursday, October 25th – 8.88 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Friday, October 26th  Rest Day, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Saturday, October 27th – 20 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

A 65 mile week WITH TWO REST DAYS?! That NEVER happens... But I guess that is now a possibility since I have officially started my ultra training... EEKS! Technically I am still recovering from Ventura so my runs have all been easy paced (and mostly on flat terrain), but hopefully in the next week or two I'll start adding in more trails and elevation.

How were your workouts this past week?

Friday, October 26, 2018

Friday Favorites

It's been a couple weeks since my last Friday Favorites post (feel free to blame it on the fact that we were maxin' and relaxin' on a beach in Kauai for a week and a half and then had a goal marathon weekend or just laziness ;)), but it's time to get back into the swing of things because I know I always feel better when I have a routine! As always, I've been digging an assortment of things and I wanted to tell you all about them (because maybe you'll love them too)!

26.2 Questions with Des Linden

Brooks put out a new video with Des and some of the questions they asked her leading up to the New York City Marathon (which, by the way, is next weekend). I always love learning more about amazing athletes, so this was right up my alley. Not to mention, not only is Des an AWESOME runner, but she lives in Michigan, so DUH, she's my kind of lady!

Sparkle Athletic's Ugly Christmas Sweater Skirt

Did you see that Sparkle Athletic just released some more new products?! I think my favorite of them is the new Ugly Christmas Sweater Skirt. It is the perfect running skirt for any of your holiday races. (I'm thinking I NEED it for the Riverside Lexus LaceUp Half in December!) I love that it doesn't SCREAM Christmas, but it is still super festive!


Starbucks' Signing Store

Starbucks opened its first official US "Signing" Store in Washington D.C. earlier this week (which was converted over the last few months from an existing Starbucks location). It's their first US cafe staffed by employees who are partially or fully deaf and capable of communicating in American Sign Language. All baristas who can communicate in sign language will wear an "I Sign" pin. The store is also equipped with digital displays and notepads, and an ordering console with two-way keyboards so customers and employees can type back and forth. Among the other special deaf-friendly features are low-glare reflective surfaces. (Did you know I learned the ASL alphabet in pre-school and still know it?!)



Can you believe it is almost November?! And then it will be the holidays?! (I may or may not have already asked the hubby if we could put up our Christmas decorations the first weekend of November because we will be out of town for the majority of the other weekends.) I got an email earlier this week with a reminder about opting outside on Black Friday. I LOVE that REI closes their doors on the biggest shopping days of the year! Not only do they shut their doors, but they also pay their employees to spend time outside with their friends and family! AWESOMESAUCE! "We're closing our doors again on Black Friday because some things are more important than selling stuff." Start planning your adventure NOW! 


What are you loving lately?

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Ventura Marathon Race Recap

Sunday morning was the Ventura Marathon... my fall goal race... the one I had been working towards for months.


But before we jump to the finish line, we should probably do a quick recap of how we got there. I officially started training for Ventura in July. I had been asked to be a Lexus LaceUp Running Series ambassador and noticed the Ventura event offered a full marathon (the others three events only went up to the half marathon distance). Not only did I see the marathon distance was an option, I saw it was touted as a fast course with PR and BQ potential. Although I've decided that I don't plan to return to the Boston Marathon for the time being {you can read all about that decision HERE if you haven't yet}, that doesn't mean I want to hang up my goals of faster times all together. Well, who can pass up a free race entry to a fast course with plenty of time to train?! Probably a lot folks, but I'm definitely not one of them so I registered!

My 16 week training plan officially started as of July 1st, but I already had a decent base to build from.

Training went well. I got in all of my runs, surprised myself by hitting some of my track workouts that I never thought were possible, stayed healthy, etc. In case you have never trained for a fall marathon (or had someone in your life that has), let me just tell you that summer running can be brutal! And SoCal had a long stint of hot and humid days to contend with. But, like 'they' say, "fall PRs are made in the summer" (or at least that's what I would tell myself when the going got tough and I had to get running). I was hoping the harder conditions were helping me to become a stronger runner that I would be able to cash in on come race day (when, God willing, the conditions would be much more favorable for running).

And, then, for the dreaded taper the hubby and I were lucky enough to head to Kauai for a 9 day vacation with friends! If you ever need a great way to take your mind off your lack of running, an island vacation is exactly what I'd suggest!

When race day finally came around I felt prepared both physically and mentally. (Okay, so maybe I was slightly nervous because I felt like I didn't have adequate "freak out" time because we were off enjoy ourselves in Hawaii, but my mind felt refreshed, so that had to count for something, right?!) I had my goals all laid out and I was ready to tackle the race.

For "goal" races (ones that I am running with a specific time in mind) I normally have multiple goals - that way in case I don't hit one I still
have something to work towards rather than throwing the race out the window if I see one time slip out of grasp. This race was no different.

Normally I would've been content driving to the race on the morning of the event (especially because they offer race day bib pick-up {one of the many amazing things I love about this series}), but since the hubby bit the bullet and also registered for the marathon, he wanted to stay in a hotel the night before... so we splurged (I don't know if you'd call a Motel 6 "splurging", but it was more money than staying in our own bed...). Without traffic it'd take a little over two hours to drive the 150 miles, but seeing as we would be driving on a Saturday we knew traffic HAD to be considered... The game plan was to watch the Michigan football game (#priorities) and then hopefully hit the road around 12:30pm. Well, Mother Nature decided to throw a wrench in that plan because the football game had a 90ish minute weather delay so we ended up not leaving until closer to 1:15pm (and had to listen to the fourth quarter on the radio). Traffic was sucktastic (as it ALWAYS is in Los Angeles no matter the day or time) and it ended up taking us FOUR HOURS to get to the expo.

Traffic makes us sad... and hungry...

Thankfully we were able to arrive about 30 minutes before the expo officially closed so we could grab our bibs and goodies before heading to grab a pizza (because CARB LOADING!) and check into our hotel for the night.

Because most of the vendors were preparing to "close up shop" already, everything was pretty empty
and torn down when we got there... hence the lack of "expo" pictures for the blog... 

While chowing down on our pizza we watched Purdue whomp on OSU and we couldn't have cheered louder! (Michigan won, Michigan State lost, Ohio State lost and Notre Dame didn't win - so it was an AWESOME football Saturday ;))

Apparently the TV is more important than taking a picture for me ;)

By the time we were ready to wind down it was already around 7:30pm and we had less than 12 hours until the race was set to start! Thankfully I knew I had everything I needed since I had laid out my #FlatCarlee prior to hitting the road.

I mean, if there was ever a race my Sarah Marie Design Studio tank was made for, it would be this one, right?!
My #FlatCarlee included: "jailbreak" PRO Compression socks, black Brooks FastForward Crossback sports bragunmetal Sparkle
Athletic skirt
, a Sarah Marie Design Studio tank, elite Road ID, #WeRunSocial trucker, black and white QALO silicone wedding bands,
black and gray Momentum Jewelry wraps, #WeRunSocial thingamajig, Nathan handheld, PROBAR BOLT chews, my Garmin
Forerunner 935
, and Brooks Levitate 2 with reflective lightning bolt Shwings.

After a quick foam rolling and stretch session, it was eventually time to hit the hay. The last piece of business is always triple checking my alarms (yes, I set multiple "just in case"... but 99% of the time I'm up before the first one goes off).

Like most nights before a race, I didn't sleep great. I was "in bed" from about 9:15pm till about 2:15am but I would say I didn't get much sleep at all. Thankfully the night before I had prioritized getting in bed early it so didn't feel too tired.

I would argue that any of the rest I got was
actually "deep sleep", but I digress...

I let the hubby sleep a little longer while I got ready in the bathroom. I ate my PROBAR BASE bar (my go-to for breakfast most mornings) while perusing through my social media. Eventually it was time to wake up the hubby, finish getting ready and check out of the hotel. The shuttles were picking up runners from the Ventura County Fairgrounds, so we made our way over around 4:40am (the info said the buses would leave between 4:45 and 5am, so we wanted to give ourselves a buffer to deal with parking, the walk to the buses, etc). Parking was a breeze (even though I was a little bummed we had to pay for it... even if it was only $5) and had plenty of time so sat in the car for a few minutes before heading to the buses.

Car selfies help relieve pre-race jitters... or so I've been told ;)

There seemed to be adequate buses waiting for runners and we were able to walk on without any wait. But then the real adventure started... Before leaving, the bus driver stood up and asked "Does anyone know where we are going?" Nervous laughter spread through the bus... Everyone assumed he was joking... He wasn't... He ended up asking someone sitting behind him to use the light on their phone to follow the printed directions and tell him where to go... Let's just say it made me pretty worried. I've had a couple bad experiences with race transportation and although I appreciate when races provide the service, I really wish they got folks who were comfortable with the route and knew exactly where they were going. Thankfully after a few stops to look at the directions and consult Google Maps we were able to arrive at the start.

Trying not to freak out or ask to get off and onto another bus...

My normal routine when I get to the start of a race is to jump in the bathroom line right away (because they always seem to get crazy busy before a race and you never know how long you will have to wait) - even if I don't have to go at the time. Here is probably where I should share about my stomach issues lately. For the past month or so my tummy has been giving me some major troubles. I am not 100% sure what the reason is (I was diagnosed with IBS in 2008 but everything had been feeling okay for the last couple years), but let's just say even on the drive up to Ventura on Saturday we had to make a couple EMERGENCY pit-stops. I was hoping everything was out of my system {sorry if this is a little TMI}, but just in case it wasn't I wanted to hit up the port-o-potties with plenty of time in case I needed a second (or third) trip.

You can see the bathroom lines in the background... they never got shorter than this... 

After the hubby and I used the bathrooms, we went and found a patch of dirt to hang out on. There wasn't a ton of open area for runners, so we felt a little cramped, but at least that helped to keep everyone warm. I decided I would hit up the potties one last time and while in line I found the sweet Emily and Pammy. These ladies have been so encouraging to me as I chase down my goals (they are both super sweet and speedy!) so I was stoked to have randomly run into them both. We chatted a bit while waiting, snapped a selfie, gave out hugs and wished one another a great race.

I found the hubby stretching on a rock and told him we should probably head to the start line. Normally, if the hubby is running a race I will run it with him, but since I was chasing BIG GOALS, we decided this would be one time we would run our own race. We said our goodbyes, snapped a quick picture and made our way to our respective starting areas.

You'll just have to believe me when I explain what is going on, since I realize all of
our dark selfies (in the car, on the bus, at the start) look the exact same, hehe!

Apparently due to a noise ordinance there was no music allowed at the starting line, which meant there was no national anthem. Because of that the start felt a little anti-climactic. It was running behind schedule (they were waiting for the official all-clear, or at least that's what they said) and then eventually the announcer just said "3, 2, 1" and we took off.


Warning: Because this was a goal race I did not take my phone out for photos. All of the pictures between here and the finish line will be gifs, memes or free race photos provided by the Lexus LaceUp Running Series (another awesome perk).

If you read my post containing my goal for the race, you know I had Goals A-D with an additional "Moonshot". After my training, I truly believed my MS goal of a sub-3:20 marathon was a possibility so I decided I wanted to go for it and made a 3:20 pace band (I like the FindMyMarathon site because it accounts for the specific course and you can change the pacing based on effort, speed, conservative start, negative split, etc). My plan was to stick with the 3:20 pacer through Mile 18 and if I felt good at that point to start ticking off faster miles. {Spoiler alert: The race did NOT go as planned.}


I'll be honest, I go back and forth with pacers. On one hand, I like them because I don't necessarily have to check my watch - I can just zone out and cruise. On the other hand, if my goal is to run a specific time and that pacer leaves me in the dust I can get more frustrated (especially if subsequent pacers continue to pass me throughout the race). Either way, I would still like to give Beast Pacing two big thumbs up for having such stellar pacers running for them!


From looking at the elevation chart (and then the pace band), I knew the majority of the climbing came in the first half of the race. This is definitely an overall downhill course, but there are still a few bumps you need to be aware of. And, let's be real, I'd much prefer them in the beginning of the race when your legs still have juice to battle them than at the end.


The first six or so miles I was cruising. Don't get me wrong, running those mile didn't feel like a walk in the park (despite running "goal marathon pace" in training, holding it is still a difficult task), but they also didn't feel like a struggle. The cooler temperatures and gradual downhill of those first few miles had me thinking to myself "maybe I really CAN do this".

I would've preferred about 10* cooler, but we take what we get

Now here is the part where I share my first "con" on the race. I know, I know, I'm an ambassador for the series so you think I would be singing my praises from the roof tops, but you all know I've gotta keep it real, so if there is something that isn't my jam I'm gonna share it so you can make an informed decision when you are contemplating running the race. Now, although I thought the first part of the race (while you were still in Ojai) was gorgeous, I didn't love the width of the course. Okay, so this may take a little explaining, but stick with me. The first 10.5ish miles are a loop before heading "down" to Ventura. Think of it as a clock. The start to say Mile 4 is from 12 o'clock to 6 o'clock on a clock face. Then Mile 4-6 is an out and back, so you are going from 6 o'clock back to say 4 o'clock and back to 6 o'clock. Then Miles 6-8 take you back from 6 o'clock back to 12 o'clock. Finally Miles 8-10.5 take you back to 6 o'clock and down to the straight shot (more or less) to the finish line. Well, if you are still with me and able to picture this, you see that there is 2ish mile section that has three lanes of "traffic" - the runners heading out on the out and back section, the runners coming back on the out and back section and the runners heading out to Ventura. Although the volunteers and signage kept everyone organized, we were still all sharing one lane of traffic... Which meant the width of running room was maybe 2-3 (at most) people wide... And when people are running with pace groups or are still pretty bunched up at the beginning of the race this makes for some difficult navigation. Now I realize this was technically only a couple miles of congestion like this, but since it's early in the race when you are still trying to find your groove, it can throw folks off so I wanted to mention it.

I tried to draw it out on the map, but I'm not sure this is much better... The green flag is where you start. Then the black arrowheads
show you from the start through mile 5, then the aqua arrowheads show you from mile 5 through 8 and then the green arrowheads
show you from mile 8 through 11. You can see the stretch from around mile 4-6 and 9.5-11 there are three different arrowheads
(meaning groups of runners) in this section. And since the road was still open to traffic we were all sharing a single lane of road. 

Anywho, enough about that (and thankfully, this was the only real area I found congestion to be an issue, but I will come back to something similar towards the end of my recap), back to the race. Like I mentioned before, the majority of the elevation gains came in the first half. I was hitting very close to the splits I needed for the first six or so miles, but I knew I would be slowing soon. And slow I did. Now, looking at my pace band I was still pretty spot on, but around mile 8, after we had a good mile and a half or two of slow incline (think of it more like a false flat - nothing that you would look at and think 'wow, that's a hill', but our legs were definitely feeling it), my quads started feeling a bit like rocks. I was a little nervous, seeing as we still had 18 miles to go, but decided to throw that worry by the wayside. PS I had been slightly in front of the 3:20 pacer up until this point, but around Mile 8 he (and the crew) caught up and passed me. At that point I planned to hold on to them as long as I could - letting their momentum pull me through if my legs continued to feel heavy and led-like.

Picture proof I was with the pacer for at least a little bit of the race ;)

Thankfully once the uphill was over my legs started loosening up again and I felt the pep in my step return. I definitely wasn't running an "easy" pace, but I didn't feel like I was overly exerting myself. There is a quote that says something along the lines of "in the beginning of a race, don't be stupid... in the end, don't be a coward". I really wanted to do my best to not start off too fast and then be kicking myself because I didn't have enough in the tank at the end. Through the halfway point I was still right on track for my goal of a 3:20 finish (my hope was that even if I couldn't pick it up around Mile 18 like I was wanting, at least when the finish line was in sight I'd muster enough oomph to kick it in and beat the pacer).

Literally cannot believe how close my paces were to what they were "supposed" to be! 

Right around this point we jumped onto the Ventura River Bike Path. Although the path isn't wide, at this point folks are pretty well spread out so I didn't notice much congestion. The trail is still technically open to the public (although there were signs asking folks to take alternative routes) so you had to keep your eyes peeled for dog walkers, bikers, etc. It reminded me the San Diego Holiday Half that runs on the bike path next to the 56. I wouldn't say this part is scenic, but at least you can't see Highway 33 next to it like you can in San Diego. (By the way, this section of the race is the same as you run for Mountains2Beach - a similar race in May - so if you've run that one you'll be familiar with this section.)

Starting around Mile 15 I knew my stomach was not 100%. I've been lucky enough to not have to deal with major stomach issues during a race, but I guess that luck finally ran out. Thankfully there were aid stations every mile and a half or so, so I thought if I needed a pit-stop I'd be close enough to jump into a port-o-potty. {Spoiler alert: This was NOT the case.}


Seeing as I started running later in life (in case you are new to my corner of the InterWebs, I didn't start running until 2012, when I was in my late 20s), I don't know if I am running "correctly". I know our bodies are amazing things and can try to correct our shortcomings to make our movements as efficient as possible, but that still doesn't mean I have proper form. So when I explain my running, I may get a ton of folks telling me I am doing it wrong, but this is how I've been running for the last 6 years and thus far it has worked for me. Anywho, when I run "hard/ fast", I seem to tense my abs. For some reason my form (or maybe just my head) thinks that when I tighten my stomach my legs can go faster and push harder. Well, when your stomach is in turmoil (it wasn't doing somersaults, but I knew it wasn't smooth sailing), let's just say this isn't an option. To be completely transparent, I didn't trust my stomach enough to clench my abs and not poop my pants...


With that said, I would say I wasn't running my strongest race. Around this point the 3:20 pacer started pulling away and I knew that if I wanted to stick with him I would risk a blowout (I know, I know, TMI, but that's what you get with runners ;)).


I had a major decision to make at this point and I knew it would impact the outcome of my race. First, I could stop at a port-o-potty and "try" to use the restroom. I didn't know if I'd be able to go "completely", so that meant potentially giving up precious moments without knowing for sure if it'd alleviate the situation. Second, I could keep pushing on, but not as hard as I would like. This means I would definitely miss my Moonshot goal and who knows about the others. Third, I could push, push, push to stay with the pacer (but in doing so I might push, push, push something into my pants). #RealTalk


Quickly I looked at my wrist, saw the Momentum wrap that said "NEVER GIVE UP" and knew exactly what I was going to do. I'd push on at a comfortably uncomfortable pace (without going too close to the edge of danger). Can we pause for a second real quick? I was so proud of myself in this moment. In past races, I would've seen the 3:20 pacer pull away and thrown my hands into the air. I wouldn't have walked it in, but I definitely would've gotten into a negative head space, started pulling back and finished disappointed (not because of my time, but because I didn't give my best). But I never gave up on myself, I pushed with everything I had and celebrated every step. I was proud of myself DURING the process (not just at the finish) because I knew I was giving it everything I had with the body that showed up on race day.

In fact, around Mile 18 or so I actually caught back up to the 3:20 pacer. That, in and of itself, tangibly helped reinforce the lesson that you should NEVER throw in the towel. There was a mini elevation gain between Miles 15 and 16, so the downhill at this point definitely helped get me back to the pace group, but even still, I was pumped. I was stoked even if he pulled away again because I knew that my persistence was paying off. {Spoiler alert: He would pull away again.}


I know I mentioned the cooler temps at the beginning of the race, but I should comment that I was pleasantly surprised with the temperature for the majority of the race. I assumed that once the sun came up we would be baking (SoCal has been dealing with Santa Ana winds and some dry, hot heat), but surprisingly the course was mostly in the shade (at least when I was running it, I know the hubby mentioned it started getting warmer and sunnier for him closer to the 20 mile mark). When I finished it was in the mid-70s which isn't normally what you would generally think of for your typical "fall" race, but having dealt with HOT races in the past, I was stoked with how Mother Nature treated us!


And here is the point in the recap where the dramatic music starts to build and everyone but the main character senses something BIG is about to happen. I had still been chugging along at a decent clip (around Mile 20 or so the pacer started pulling away and I knew my tummy wouldn't let me keep up with him), but started to see my paces slow out of the range I needed them to be to be able to achieve my MS goal. At this point I took off my pace band and told myself I was going to give my best no matter what, so I didn't need the band. I was pushing as hard as I could so whatever the clock said when I crossed the finish line would be my best, no need to be comparing my current time to what it "should" be.


My stomach started acting up. It was like a toddler who throws a tantrum when it's not getting the attention it wants. When I would focus on it, it'd settle down, but any time I would get into a groove and take my mind off of it, it'd rear its spoiled head and remind me of its presence. I was mentally crossing off the miles to the finish line - not because my legs were hurting, not because I was beat down, but because one mile closer meant one less mile I wasn't in a stones throw from a bathroom. Like I mentioned, there were aid stations every 1.5 miles or so (major props for the frequency of the support), but if you've had stomach issues you know that more than a quick waddle to the bathroom can be too far at times.


Then... it happened... the urge I couldn't shake. I knew I was too far past the previous aid station to be able to realistically turn around, so I hoped (and prayed) I'd come to the next one in time. And as the seconds and steps went on, I knew that wasn't a possibility. If you're a runner, maybe you've dealt with this before, but you start looking around, scoping out all the potential spots where you can drop trou to handle your 'ish. Thankfully there was a dense area of bushes on the side of the trail. Although we were fenced into the trail we were on, I figured if I went past the bushes, none of the runners coming up would see me taking care of business. My only fear was runners who looked over at the exact moment they were passing me, or folks who were utilizing the trail coming from the other direction. Thankfully no one noticed (or so I hope).


So, yes, in case you need me to spell it out, I have now pooped in a bush during a race. #GottaDoWhatchaGottaDo


Surprisingly, my time for that mile wasn't too terrible (because obviously when you gotta go, you gotta go and there isn't time for dilly-dally'ing). I'm sure some of the runners around me were a bit confused when I emerged from the side of the trail... actually... scratch that... anyone who saw me probably knew exactly what I was doing... and they were thanking their lucky stars that they didn't have to do the same.


And with that it was time to finish the race. I knew I wasn't out of the woods yet, so I couldn't sprint it in, but was stoked my tummy did feel a tiny sense of relief after my pit-stop. I ran those last two-ish miles strong and made my way to the finish.

Not sure if you noticed it, but I seem to have "lost" my buff between my previous course picture and here... Hmmmm... 

I was THRILLED when the finish line was in sight and I saw the race clock was still showing a time UNDER 3:25. (My standing PR {personal record} from the 2017 Chicago Marathon was 3:25:02 so my A Goal was a sub 3:25.) #PRorER

You can see that Mile 24 was where my pace dipped from my "stop", but when you look at the "moving" time, it wasn't as far off from
what I should have been running at that point. You can see I definitely wasn't exactly on pace, but I sure wasn't too far off either!

Officially I crossed the finish line in 3:23:31! BOOYA! A 91 second PR - and that was WITH the bush bathroom stop! Not only that, but I ended up finishing 16th female overall and 5th in my age group! HECK TO THE YES! 

You've gotta celebrate EVERY finish line!


I quickly grabbed my medal and made my way to the post-race festival because I needed to use the facilities... again. Thankfully after a few minutes I felt like my tummy was starting to settle down so I was able to go grab my waffle breakfast. (#RealTalk - another 'con' of the race... They really talked about this waffle breakfast and even though I am normally not a waffle eater, I was looking forward to trying to get a little something into my stomach. Let's just say it was a single waffle (that was in a big chafer dish) with the option of whipped cream or individual packets of syrup, plus a few pieces of fruit, pretzels and Oreos. You didn't have to wait in line as long as you did for the food trucks at the OC Lexus LaceUp Half, but compared to the post-race french toast breakfast at the Mesa-PHX Marathon, this was pretty sad.)

Since the hubby didn't run with his phone and didn't have a plan for the race, I didn't know when to expect him to roll in. I decided to take my plate of food and head to the finish line - that way I could cheer in other runners and hopefully see Ryan finish his THIRD marathon (and in the span of 9 months!). His fastest full was a 4:15, so hoped he'd come in sometime around then... and he did! He rocked it and officially finished in 4:22 (right on the nose)!

Look at how strong and upright he looks! 

This guy is an absolute ROCKSTAR! Running isn't his thing... he does it because he knows how much I love it... and since February he has run THREE marathons as well as an unofficial ultra! Now THAT is true love!

Medal selfie


Once he caught his breath, we made our way to the post-race festival so he could grab his food and beer (I don't drink beer so he lucks out and gets two since I always give him mine). We were also able to catch up with friends we found.

Eventually it was time to head back to the car to make the journey home. As can be expected, traffic wasn't in our favor, but at least it would only end up taking three hours instead of the previous day's four hour trek...


But, before I wrap this up, I do feel the need to share one last 'con' from the race. At first I wasn't sure I wanted to share it, because I didn't want it to come across rude to my fellow runners, but since the hubby and I both mentioned it when we were chatting about the race I felt it necessary. This event offers both a full and half marathon on Sunday. Since the course is a point-to-point race, the marathon starts 26.2 miles away from the finish and the half starts 13.1 miles away (meaning the half starts at about the halfway mark of the full course). The full was slated to start at 6:40am, while the half kicked off at 7:10am. This means that there is a possibility that the full runners will catch up with some of the slower half runners. Again, please do not take this the wrong way, I totally believe we ALL deserve the right to be on the course, but since running is such a mental activity I want to shed some light on my thoughts. Seeing as there were fewer full runners, and later in the race they are pretty spread out, when you start catching the half runners (many of whom are walking) there aren't many full runners in sight. I found it to be a bit of a mind screw to continue pushing as hard as I needed when I came up on the half runners. At the point in the race where we combined I was easily on the brink of wanting to slow down or take a walk break. Having the majority of folks around you at that time doing just that makes it extremely difficult mentally to keep pushing. Please hear me - I love that the half marathon course limit is 5 hours and allows for some folks who normally wouldn't be able to complete a half marathon to get out there and tackle the challenge, but I do want to mention that if you aren't in the right head space at this point in the race and you suddenly find yourself surrounded by folks going at a lot slower pace than you, you may find yourself giving in and matching their effort. {PS To the back-of-the-pack'ers, I love you, but please do your best to not walk more then 2 or 3 abreast so folks can safely and easily pass.}


All-in-all the pros {fast course, awesome pacers, plenty of aid stations [although the fuel being at Miles 3.4, 19.9 and 23.3 was a little confusing], free race photos, race day bib pick-up option, scenic views, shaded path, mostly downhill, great volunteers and first responders, etc} definitely outweighed the few but noticeable cons {areas of congestion, lack of spectators, merging of half and full courses}, and if it was closer I would absolutely run this race again. Even still, I wouldn't rule it out. I know I have a faster time in me, so, hey, maybe I'll be back for a second go-around next year!

The post-race live band was a pretty fun experience too!

PS In case you want to join me (and the hubby) and either (or BOTH) of the two remaining Lexus LaceUp events of 2018 {Palos Verdes on November 17th and Riverside on December 2nd}, use code "CARLEE10" to save 10% on registration!

Where is the strangest place you've had to use the bathroom?